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Subject: How do you explain the games ‘swingy’ difficulty? rss

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Lars Rasmussen
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I tried at some point to explain to someone how the difficulty of EH can swing from game to game. I did something like this:

10% of games everything goes your way and you cruise towards victory. Even the most casual players will win these games.

20% of games give you a good chance to win, if you prioritize ok. Experienced play-to-win players will win these easily, while casual players will win half of them.

40% of games end up fairly balanced if you play close to optimal. Experienced play-to-win players will edge out a win most of the time, though not always, but casual players will lose more often than not.

20% of games are unfair and the game is really evil. Really experienced play—to-win players may still find a way to barely win with optimal strategy, but casual players will always lose these.

10% of games, the board, decks and dice tear you a new one, and total utter and crushing defeat will leave you half-laughing madly in disbelief. Only experienced play-to-win players will play on to see how close they can get before they lose - hoping for some “Promise if Power” miracle that never comes. All other players flip the table in disgust.

Did I get it right? Or should the five percentages be different?
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MC Crispy
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As a casual player who has abandoned the game because it never feels like a fun and fair game (and I playtested the base game and some of the expansions!), I'd say that your numbers are about right and that a 30% win rate is about right for an experienced game and casual player - but that careful management of the Mythos build and Mystery "seeding" may be necessary to do that well. The numbers imply a 60-75% win rate for experienced play-to-win players, is that what you intended?
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Duncan McKay
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I don't think it's as 'normally' distributed as that with your 40% middle. I reckon the distribution is more bimodal - you're more likely to win fairly comfortably or tank horribly. In a totally random setup, this is often down to the investigators suitability and how good a start you get. As we know, when things are going bad, they tend to just get worse. Other times you've got those early blessings and artifacts and cruising it and the only real excitement you've got is keeping the blessing or not during the reckonings.

I find it's rarer than it should be to have a really close and exciting finish, unless you are selective in your setup to try and achieve that.
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Stephan Beal
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mccrispy wrote:
I'd say that your numbers are about right and that a 30% win rate is about right...
FWIW, the community statistics currently claim an average success rate of about 56% over 12k sessions:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZdxFQZu-5jT9zyTRuE0J...

Granted, anyone entering data into those stats is probably a fairly hard-core gamer, not a casual one.
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With my first couple of games I went for the Expeditions but they seem a bit hit or miss.... reduce Doom or gain an artifact. By game three I leave them alone... especially when I'm solo with 2 vestigators.. maybe with 3 or 4 players you can focus one vestigator on Expedition resolution.

I haven't played enough to offer any say on the % quotes. 3 or 4 games on game night and 4 solo games.... 2 wins so far.. *hangs head in shame*
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MC Shudde M'ell
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I think breaking it down in five categories implies more data than you're actually using. If you say it's about one third too easy, one third too hard, and one third about right, that's a better way to admit that your estimates are really rough (nothing wrong with that), but that those three broad categories definitely exist independent of player experience/skill.

Expansions, Preludes, choosing your Investigators/Preludes/Ancient Ones, Investigator count, Variant Reference Cards - lots of things will swing the exact percentages to one side or the other, but it can still all come down to your first Rumour and first Mystery being a brutal combo and wrecking your chances for the rest of the game.
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MC Crispy
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Esgaldil wrote:
...it can still all come down to your first Rumour and first Mystery being a brutal combo and wrecking your chances for the rest of the game.
I think that it's more swingy than that! At any time a Mythos or Mystery can - on it's own or in combination with another card or even just the current game state - put a crimp in your game. The frequency of (IME) "oh, there went the game" is why I don't bother with it any more - there are far more games that are more fun to play (even if they are harder games to beat).
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From my point of view if you are worried about win rates this may not be the game for you. I would say it is a game that demonstrates how important the journey is, if you win its great but if you lose its been fun too.
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everything is broken
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Have you considered the your curve may not be bell shaped, but skewed?
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Lars Rasmussen
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monstermunch wrote:
I don't think it's as 'normally' distributed as that with your 40% middle.

(...)

I find it's rarer than it should be to have a really close and exciting finish, unless you are selective in your setup to try and achieve that.
Ok, I agree 40% was probably inflated for the sake of selling the game to my audience at the timecool

But thinking back at games, I just remember thinking after losses “ah, if only I had gone for the clue there” or after victories “wow it was good that flamethrower appeared in the reserve”. I am sure those do not account for 40%, but they most definitely account for 40% of the games I remember
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Duncan McKay
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Jorath wrote:
From my point of view if you are worried about win rates this may not be the game for you. I would say it is a game that demonstrates how important the journey is, if you win its great but if you lose its been fun too.
Absolutely agree - I think a narrow loss is far more enjoyable than knowing you are going to win with half the mythos deck left. That's why now I always play with one of the disaster preludes, and sometimes both - I love the unpredictability they bring.
 
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Jeffery Hudson
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the funnest game I've had was one where we were completely massacred by that sickness rumor NO ONE could get to. We lost 11 of our 12 investigators to that thing and claimed a moral victory when we finally ended it (we had to wait for a new investigator to start close enough to it to solve it before the mythos phase might kill them). We laughed, we cried, we got pulled into the burmuda triangle where 5 of us died. It was fantastic!

But there are times the game is a slog. i don't mind losing, but i do mind 4+ hours of drudgery where we just know there's no hope of winning and it takes 2 hours to clear the first mystery.

I've played many games of this and STILL feel like a beginning player. i'd love to see someone work out a 'codex' for this game like in AH3 that will help push the game along to a resolution.
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Ryan M
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I never play without the staged mythos variant anymore. I find it greatly reduces the swingyness and creates much closer games. I still lose a lot but there are far less games where we get crushed right from the start.
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MC Shudde M'ell
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mccrispy wrote:
Esgaldil wrote:
...it can still all come down to your first Rumour and first Mystery being a brutal combo and wrecking your chances for the rest of the game.
I think that it's more swingy than that! At any time a Mythos or Mystery can - on it's own or in combination with another card or even just the current game state - put a crimp in your game. The frequency of (IME) "oh, there went the game" is why I don't bother with it any more - there are far more games that are more fun to play (even if they are harder games to beat).
I agree - I meant that to be an example, not the only way the game can become unbeatable.

I do think that skill and experience count for a lot and can make the game fun for me even when I can see no path to victory. I understand people putting EH in the "I don't play the game, the game plays me" category, but that's not my subjective experience. I don't deny that there are 3+ hour sessions that can feel pointless in terms of winning, but the minor stuff happening that I can try to react to and mitigate or take advantage of makes enough difference that it never goes all the way into feeling like Cthulhu Candy Land.
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MC Crispy
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Esgaldil wrote:
mccrispy wrote:
Esgaldil wrote:
...it can still all come down to your first Rumour and first Mystery being a brutal combo and wrecking your chances for the rest of the game.
I think that it's more swingy than that! At any time a Mythos or Mystery can - on it's own or in combination with another card or even just the current game state - put a crimp in your game. The frequency of (IME) "oh, there went the game" is why I don't bother with it any more - there are far more games that are more fun to play (even if they are harder games to beat).
I agree - I meant that to be an example, not the only way the game can become unbeatable.

I do think that skill and experience count for a lot and can make the game fun for me even when I can see no path to victory.
Sure; that's (at least some of) the difference between Casual vs Play-to-Win players. If you play it enough it doesn't matter that you get crushed 'cos you'll be playing again fairly soon and you'll more often feel that still have a chance. If you play "casually" then an "unwinnable" game means 3 hours you won't get back. I put EH in the pile labelled "only for those who play the same game week in week out or who have a lot of available gaming time - like I did when I was a teenager".
Quote:
I understand people putting EH in the "I don't play the game, the game plays me" category, but that's not my subjective experience. I don't deny that there are 3+ hour sessions that can feel pointless in terms of winning, but the minor stuff happening that I can try to react to and mitigate or take advantage of makes enough difference that it never goes all the way into feeling like Cthulhu Candy Land.
So you play a lot more than I do. Big deal! I don't play 'cos I don't feel there's enough enjoyable game to make it worth the effort of getting better at it - unlike for many other games. So it lives on the "not worth the investment in time" pile (with games like Alien Uprising), but unlike Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, which I consider to be worthwhile "getting good at".
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When I play solo and 'lose' I tell the wife, jokingly, that is was the WORST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER and with my first solo win...I stated 'Rubbish game... too easy. Not enough replay value!'

Any card that screws us over on game night solicits the phrase: That seems about right.... any loss: rubbish game. I'm not playing this again... or sayings to that effect

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MC Shudde M'ell
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mccrispy wrote:
Quote:
I understand people putting EH in the "I don't play the game, the game plays me" category, but that's not my subjective experience. I don't deny that there are 3+ hour sessions that can feel pointless in terms of winning, but the minor stuff happening that I can try to react to and mitigate or take advantage of makes enough difference that it never goes all the way into feeling like Cthulhu Candy Land.
So you play a lot more than I do. Big deal! I don't play 'cos I don't feel there's enough enjoyable game to make it worth the effort of getting better at it - unlike for many other games. So it lives on the "not worth the investment in time" pile (with games like Alien Uprising), but unlike Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, which I consider to be worthwhile "getting good at".
Totally totally fair, and I'm sorry that I implied that I thought my reaction was truer or better. It's a good and right decision to not play games you don't enjoy playing, and I wasn't trying to suggest otherwise, just sharing my subjective experience.

For what it's worth I don't think of myself as "Casual" or "Play-to-Win" but more "Play-to-Play". I'd rather play a few games that I love (for personal subjective reasons) over and over again, whether or not I win. Not better or worse than anyone else's priorities, just the way I like games.
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Esgaldil wrote:
mccrispy wrote:
Quote:
I understand people putting EH in the "I don't play the game, the game plays me" category, but that's not my subjective experience. I don't deny that there are 3+ hour sessions that can feel pointless in terms of winning, but the minor stuff happening that I can try to react to and mitigate or take advantage of makes enough difference that it never goes all the way into feeling like Cthulhu Candy Land.
So you play a lot more than I do. Big deal! I don't play 'cos I don't feel there's enough enjoyable game to make it worth the effort of getting better at it - unlike for many other games. So it lives on the "not worth the investment in time" pile (with games like Alien Uprising), but unlike Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, which I consider to be worthwhile "getting good at".
Totally totally fair, and I'm sorry that I implied that I thought my reaction was truer or better. It's a good and right decision to not play games you don't enjoy playing, and I wasn't trying to suggest otherwise, just sharing my subjective experience.

For what it's worth I don't think of myself as "Casual" or "Play-to-Win" but more "Play-to-Play". I'd rather play a few games that I love (for personal subjective reasons) over and over again, whether or not I win. Not better or worse than anyone else's priorities, just the way I like games.
If the missus is out and it's not game night i have two choices.... re-read a HPL story, AGAIN, or play EH.. the idea of play-to-play hits the nail on the head... awesome idea
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MC Crispy
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Esgaldil wrote:
mccrispy wrote:
Quote:
I understand people putting EH in the "I don't play the game, the game plays me" category, but that's not my subjective experience. I don't deny that there are 3+ hour sessions that can feel pointless in terms of winning, but the minor stuff happening that I can try to react to and mitigate or take advantage of makes enough difference that it never goes all the way into feeling like Cthulhu Candy Land.
So you play a lot more than I do. Big deal! I don't play 'cos I don't feel there's enough enjoyable game to make it worth the effort of getting better at it - unlike for many other games. So it lives on the "not worth the investment in time" pile (with games like Alien Uprising), but unlike Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, which I consider to be worthwhile "getting good at".
Totally totally fair, and I'm sorry that I implied that I thought my reaction was truer or better. It's a good and right decision to not play games you don't enjoy playing, and I wasn't trying to suggest otherwise, just sharing my subjective experience.

For what it's worth I don't think of myself as "Casual" or "Play-to-Win" but more "Play-to-Play". I'd rather play a few games that I love (for personal subjective reasons) over and over again, whether or not I win. Not better or worse than anyone else's priorities, just the way I like games.
No sweat! My approach to EH is "casual" because I play it once or twice a year just to see if anything has changed (of course it hasn't). Generally I'm a bit of an omni-gamer, I also "play-to-play" - just over a broad library of games. Games get played multiple times on a short duration before being put into either the long-cycle rotation or the "I'll figure out what to do with this one later" pile. The more we like a game the shorter is its "long-cycle". It's a balance really, in my weekly group there are both members of the cult of the new and folk that really like to dig deep, so we end up serving neither very well
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Lukas Hejtman
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I think that your percentage is quite right. We played around 200 games with my wife (its her favorite game). I began to do statistics of our games after buying last missing expansion. Now after 84 plays with all expansions we have 79% winning rate. We use randomly created mythos deck (no staged variant) and randomly chosen prelude card. We play with 4 investigators (2 each), we made house rule that each of us randomly select 4 investigators and then choose 2 of them. That adds more variety to our games, with official rules you can choose the best investigators right from the start and it makes game even easier and some investigators never see play. We choose investigator from available ones only if investigator is defeated. And it really depend which AO you play, Cthulhu, Yig, Antediluvium are most difficult for us with around 50% winning rate. Easiest AOs are ones with expansion board (Elder Thing, Hypnos, Nephren-Ka) there we have 100% success rate.
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Norman Saenger
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The more Expansions you add, the more the game tends to be swingy. You can have bad luck and just get contracts in the reserve, or bad spells for e.g.. Someone in the Runebound-Forum of BGG explained it pretty well. The greater the deck of Cards, the greater the chance of getting situational (Bad) items in a row
 
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Lars Rasmussen
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Froggery wrote:
Now after 84 plays with all expansions
You played EH 84 times since the release of MoN? Wow!

surprise
 
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George Aristides
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Eldritch Dane wrote:
I tried at some point to explain to someone how the difficulty of EH can swing from game to game. I did something like this:

10% of games everything goes your way and you cruise towards victory. Even the most casual players will win these games.

20% of games give you a good chance to win, if you prioritize ok. Experienced play-to-win players will win these easily, while casual players will win half of them.

40% of games end up fairly balanced if you play close to optimal. Experienced play-to-win players will edge out a win most of the time, though not always, but casual players will lose more often than not.

20% of games are unfair and the game is really evil. Really experienced play—to-win players may still find a way to barely win with optimal strategy, but casual players will always lose these.

10% of games, the board, decks and dice tear you a new one, and total utter and crushing defeat will leave you half-laughing madly in disbelief. Only experienced play-to-win players will play on to see how close they can get before they lose - hoping for some “Promise if Power” miracle that never comes. All other players flip the table in disgust.

Did I get it right? Or should the five percentages be different?
I like the categorisations, but I disagree with the percentages. I'd be more like:

20% of games easy mode, even a newbie could win this.
40% of games an experienced solo player or group will win comfortably (with Doom above 5). Casual players will win if they are lucky.
20% of games are very tense. An experienced, play-to-win player can edge out a win most of the time, though not always, but casual players will lose more often than not.
20% of games are stacked against you, and you have to play your head off to have a chance at winning. I have won such a game, but only like once or twice.

This means that a casual player will win around 30% of games (the first 20% and half of the second 40%), whereas a very experienced player/group can win more than 80% of the time.

(note that my stats assume a 4 investigator game, and I am also assuming a balanced investigator team. if you have full random team, you can end up with a very bad team composition that will push your win rate down significantly).
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